The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Thursday features a four-game slate starting at 7:00 p.m. ET.
There are superstars missing all over the slate, so tonight is all about injury value.
Tonight’s top point guards square off against one another in Oklahoma City. It’s new school versus old school, with De’Aaron Fox and Chris Paul going head-to-head. Both look like pretty good plays, with each of them over a +3 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites. I’m happy to play either, but would lean toward CP3 between the two since he’s outperformed expectations in 66% of his games this season and is almost always a quality play when healthy.
With LeBron James sidelined tonight, that opens up a lot of handling and usage on the Lakers, and Rajon Rondo looks like a primary beneficiary. LeBron has missed only two games this season so there’s not much to go on, but Rondo did have 21 points, 12 rebounds, and eight rebounds in one of those games.
Rondo plays for just above the minimum but looks like a must-play, leading all players with over a +11.9 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites.
LeBron isn’t the only big star out tonight. Philadelphia is missing both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and that makes every other 76ers player a quality fantasy play. Shake Milton is your point guard option. He’s averaging over a +9 Plus/Minus filling in for Simmons over the last three games and that’s about where our models rate him tonight at over +8 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites.
If you’re not a Rondo believer, maybe you prefer Lakers cult hero Alex Caruso. Carus-God can be a bit volatile with a 39 consistency rating, but on a night without a ton of options, he could help you stand out from the crowd if he hits.
Did I mention missing stars? Damian Lillard is still sidelined, and C.J. McCollum has been doing a pretty nice star impression with Lillard out. He’s averaging almost 40 minutes and over 50 fantasy points over his last four games, with double-digit assists in three straight. Even with a rising price, McCollum looks like a great bet to provide good value with a high ceiling yet again.
It’s pretty slim pickings at shooting guard, but both Avery Bradley and Danny Green could be nice values. Our models are split on the two, slightly preferring Bradley at DraftKings and Green at FanDuel if you want to mix things up, but they’re both over a +5.7 Projected Plus/Minus at each site. You’re not getting much upside here even with LeBron out, but they look like solid cash plays.
Dennis Schroder has been a stalwart option all season and looks like a great mid-range option again at over +5.4 Projected Plus/Minus at each site. It’s a nice idea to get one of those three Thunder guards against the Kings to get a piece of that pie, and he’s the cheapest option.
Furkan Korkmaz is averaging a +7.86 Plus/Minus over the last 10 games, another big beneficiary with the Philadelphia injuries and short bench. He can explode at times, with two 48-point fantasy games in February, so he could be a tournament winner if he hits for you tonight.
With Simmons and Embiid out, Tobias Harris is a great bet to lead the 76ers in shots and points. Philadelphia is playing the Knicks, so you absolutely need to get at least one of these remaining Philly stars into your lineup. Harris is a great place to start your lineup at over a +11 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites and an unusually high ceiling over over 60 fantasy points.
Indiana is struggling, but T.J. Warren has been hot, exceeding expectations in five of six games. He’s over expectations now in 76% of his games this month and looks like an especially strong FanDuel play with an 89% Bargain Rating and a +9.16 Projected Plus/Minus. He’s always a threat to put up a lot of points in a plus matchup.
Danilo Gallinari is another guy that can put up points in a hurry. He’s exceeded expectations in 77% of his games this month and rates at over a +3.5 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites.
Gallinari will be matched up against Harrison Barnes, another solid option. He’s gone over expectations in five of his last six outings, posting a positive double-digit Plus/Minus in four of those games.
The only true stud on the entire slate that’s actually playing is Anthony Davis, and he’s sure to be in a lot of lineups tonight with so many dollars to go around. Davis is in a pretty obvious mash spot with LeBron out and facing a Golden State defense that offers a +2.65 Opponent Plus/Minus at the position.
Brow has played only one game without LeBron and had 32 points and 11 rebounds, but that doesn’t tell us much. Davis is over a +8.8 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites with by far the highest ceiling on the slate at almost 80, and frankly, there just aren’t enough other high-value options to fade him tonight.
With all those Philly injuries, Al Horford is another great option. He’ll be in a much more familiar role with Embid out and should benefit from all those extra touches. Even in a relatively neutral matchup, Horford rates at over a +9.7 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites, among the best options on the slate. Don’t be afraid to play both Harris and Horford together.
If you’re fading Anthony Davis tonight, someone’s going to have to score for the Lakers, and it will probably be Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma has exceeded expectations in seven of 10 games and is over a +5.6 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites. If you’re out on Davis, you should be in on Kuzma.
Nerlens Noel rarely gets a lot of minutes, but he usually makes them count and can rack up points in a hurry if he has one of those block party nights. He’s a solid bargain option at over a +4.4 Projected Plus/Minus.
Fantasy players know Hassan Whiteside counts as a stud too, and he looks worth the price of admission again tonight. Whiteside has exceeded expectations in 70% of his games this month with a +4.44 Plus/Minus average, and he leads all centers tonight with 11 Pro Trends. He’s over a +6.1 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites and looks worth the investment in a night where you should have plenty of salary to go around.
Whiteside will be matched up against Myles Turner, and that’s good news for Turner. Portland has allowed a whopping +6.05 Opponent Plus/Minus at the position and Turner is coming off a 50-point fantasy game, bolstered by eight blocks. He’s a volatile play with a 28 Consistency Rating but could be a big boost if you get one of his up nights.
The Lakers’ centers have both been quality fantasy options for much of the season, if you can figure out which one to play that night. I prefer Dwight Howard tonight, even at a higher salary. Both Lakers centers benefit from an easy matchup against Marquese Chriss and the Golden State Warriors, who offer up a +5.53 Opponent Plus/Minus at the position. Howard is an especially strong play at FanDuel, with his +4.64 Projected Plus/Minus.
If you’re at DraftKings, you can play JaVale McGee for the minimum. Our models slightly prefer McGee to Howard there, though you should know there’s a reason he is playing for the minimum right now — he hasn’t hit 14 fantasy points in his last six games.
Featured photo: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers
Photo credit: Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images